Monday, October 15, 2012

No Supersolid In New Experiment

OK, there are two separate issues here.

First, a new experiment, done by the person responsible for the first announcement of the possible discovery of supersolid, has now shown no evidence for that.

Many other theoretical and experimental results finally convinced Chan to redo the experiments. With postdoctoral researcher Duk Kim, he completely redesigned the torsional oscillator, taking every precaution to eliminate space for elastic helium. This time, the changes in oscillation previously attributed to a supersolid state were completely absent.

Chan realizes that this almost closes the book on supersolid helium. ”I’m in an awkward position, since we started the whole damn thing,” says Chan. “But I’m glad we were the ones who found the explanation.” Beamish agrees that these are extremely subtle effects, which is why it took so long to sort them out: “I give Moses the greatest credit for all the years he spent trying to find out what it was, rather than trying to prove it was what he said it was.” He also notes that the hunt for supersolids actually seeded new research on what has become known as quantum plasticity—the tendency of a material to deform macroscopically based on its quantum properties.
Which brings me to my second issue here of the utmost respect we all should have to Moses Chan for illustrating what a true scientist should do when faced with a contradicting evidence. Here is a person who received quite a coverage and reception when the first supersolid discovery was announced. Yet, he continues to investigate the effects in light of the responses he got, and now, after redoing the experiment and found that his original conclusion was wrong, he went ahead and published it! (Taleyarkhan, are you paying attention to all this?)

Have any religious leaders nowadays done such a thing? And yet, there are still people out there who insist that science is a religion?


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